Something about Lady Mary…
Lady Mary becomes a fashion icon
Lord Grantham might be in charge of Downton Abbey, but Lady Mary runs the show. Michelle Dockery plays the classic English beauty Lady Mary, part ruthless, part elegant and all woman in a time when the fairer sex were second class citizens.
We all know what happened here. And now there's an internet meme to immortalize it.
Lady Mary is ahead of her time when it comes to marriage and sex. She initially refused to marry for political or financial reasons, turned down perfectly suitable suitors and bedded a Turkish diplomat instead. The Turk’s heart couldn’t take it, as we all know. Lady Mary told a publishing tycoon to back off when he threatened to expose her secret. Lady Mary’s got moxie.
And Lady Mary gets all the best dresses. She admits her own lavish taste and once remarked that her dresses “cost twice the national debt.” But Lady Mary’s sense of style is like the lady herself; expensive, elegant and cutting edge. Lady Mary’s wedding dress was the most expensive costume on Downton to date. The dress took eight weeks to create with its tiny Swarovski crystals and rice pearls sewn in.
Can Lady Mary be a bit of snob? Sure, but we wouldn’t have it any other way…
The most expensive costume to date on Downton Abbey
The evolution of Lady Mary’s love affair with Matthew Crawley revealed her best and worst sides. Her character is strong and stubborn. Initially Mary turned up her nose at Matthew and his middle class ways. As a survivor, Mary only wanted to protect the family fortune. Some have called her a gold digger, but she always has the family’s interest at heart. She cares deeply for family and friends like Anna and Carson. Over the course of the first two seasons and into the third, Matthew and Mary go from distant cousins, to flirting friends, to estranged and moving on, and then back again to courting cousins and finally smitten spouses.
Lady Mary’s biography (spoilers ahead):
Born in 1892 as Lady Mary Josephine Crawley. The eldest child of Robert and Cora Crawley. Granddaughter of Violet Crawley. Sister of Edith and the late Sybil Crawley. Wife and widow of Matthew Crawley. Mother of an unnamed baby boy. Daughter in law of Isobel Crawley. Sister in law of Tom Branson. Aunt of Miss Sybil Branson.
Story Arc (spoilers ahead):
The estate of Downton Abbey must pass to a male heir by law. When the heir of Downton Abbey (Mary’s fiance) dies on the Titanic, distant fourth cousin Matthew is found. Mary, Lady Cora and Countess Violet are all angry about the state of affairs as they consider Mary the rightful heir. The family decides Mary should marry Matthew. But then she beds the Turk and limits her potential marriage pool in the wake of scandal. And Mary isn’t so keen on marrying Matthew anyway. Over time, a friendship and romance develops between the two and Matthew asks Mary to be his wife. Cora becomes pregnant with a possible new heir. Mary hesitates on the proposal and Matthew leaves to fight in the war. Cora miscarries the pregnancy. Matthew and Mary barely speak for over a year. While Matthew is away, Mary becomes engaged to publishing tycoon Sir Richard Carlisle. Matthew becomes engaged to Lavina Swire. She dies. Mary is unhappy with Sir Richard and gives him the boot. He threatens to expose the Pamuk scandal but disaster is averted. Matthew and Mary finally get engaged and married. Infertility is suspected, but they finally conceive. They are well and truly in love. At the family Christmas holiday in Scotland, Mary feels a stirring and returns to Downton where she delivers her baby. Matthew follows her home after the baby is born. He is over the moon and tells Mary he loves her more with each passing day and she’ll make an excellent mother. But then he dies on his way home from the hospital. Lady Mary is a single mother.
Lady Mary Crawley Quotes:
Michelle Dockery, modern fashion icon
“I don’t believe a woman can be forced to give away all her money to a distant cousin of her husband’s. Not in the 20th century. It’s too ludicrous for words.”
“You’re American, you don’t understand these things”
“I can see Mr. Pamuk now, a funny little foreigner with a wide toothy grin, his hair reeking of pomade”
“Haven’t you heard? I don’t have a heart. Everyone knows that.”
“Women like me don’t have a life. We choose clothes, and pay calls and work for charity and do the season. But really we are stuck in a waiting room until we marry.”
“All alone with plenty of money and a house in Eton Square. I can’t imagine anything better.”
“It’s easy to be generous when you have nothing to lose.”
“How many times am I to be ordered to marry the man sitting next to me at dinner?”
“I don’t care a fig about rules.”
“Papa prefers the servants to read the bible and letters from home.”
“I never know which is worse. The sorrow when you hit the bird. Or the shame when you miss it”
“You and my parents have something in common. You believe I’m much more of a rebel than I am.” …to Kemal Pamuk
“Everything seems so golden one minute, then turns to ashes the next. Can I ask you a question, Carson? Have you ever felt your life was somehow…slipping away? And there was nothing you could do to stop it?”
“You should learn to forget what I say. I know I do.” …to Matthew at the fair
“You know my character, Father. I’d never marry any man that I was told to. I’m stubborn. I wish I wasn’t, but I am.”
“I wish you’d just admit it! I’m a lost soul to you! I took a lover with no thought of marriage! A Turk! Think of that!” …to Lady Cora
“I’m Tess of the D’Urbervilles to your angel Claire. I have fallen. I am impure.”
“You know yourself we carry more luggage than the porters at Kings Cross.”
“When you laugh with me or flirt with me, is that a duty? Are you conforming to the fitness of things?” …to Matthew
“You can’t be sure I was going to refuse you, even if it had been a boy. Because I’m not.” …to Matthew
“I wanted to give you this. It’s my lucky charm. I’ve had it always, so you must promise to bring it back without a scratch.” …to Matthew leaving for the war
“Dear Lord, I don’t pretend to have much credit with you. I’m not even sure that you’re there. But if you are, and if I’ve ever done anything good, I beg you to keep him safe.” …Mary praying for Matthew
“The truth is we’re very much alike, so naturally I think she’s perfect.” …to Matthew about Lavinia
“Oh, darling, darling, don’t be such a baby. This isn’t fairyland. What did you think? You’d marry the chauffeur and we’d all come to tea?” …to Sybil
“Your lot buys it, my lot inherits it.” …to Sir Richard about furniture
“Would I ever admit to loving a man who preferred someone else over me?” …to Sir Richard about Matthew
“You must say it properly. I won’t answer unless you kneel down and everything.” …to Matthew as he proposes
“The role of houses like Downton is to protect tradition, that’s why they’re so important to maintain”
“Now stop talking and kiss me before I get cross”
“I shall be Countess of Grantham one day. And in my book the Countess of Grantham lives at Downton Abbey”
“So this is the moment when you receive a huge fortune that could save Downton and you give it away.”
“Matthew it’s torture for all of us. And if I ever look as if I’m finding it easy to lose my home, then I am putting on an act.”
“Edith, I know we haven’t always got along and I doubt things change much in the future, but today I wish you all the luck in the world.”
“Alfred’s nice, but he does look like a puppy who’s been rescued from a puddle.”
“Please give them a chance to behave properly.” …to Branson
“So we’ll be building a new kingdom while we make our little prince.” …to Matthew
“Darling, this isn’t 1850. No one expects me to hide indoors until the baby is born.”
“Just think, we’ve done our duty. Downton is safe. Papa must be dancing a jig.” …Mary to Matthew after the birth of their baby